We had some feedback from a delegate who had participated in one of our Conflict Management Courses a few weeks back. She works for a busy council in the revenue and benefits department, so the potential for conflict was an hourly occurrence. We were keen to know how things had gone with conflict management since she had completed the course.

She said she found conflict management a lot easier since the course, and her top tip was to ‘just stop fighting’. She went on to explain that she used to spend a lot of energy trying to explain the council’s decisions and policies to clients, who would not accept what she was saying. In some cases, the more they would not accept her decision the more frustrated she became, and some conversations could then become angry.

After attending the course, she realised her role is to communicate council decisions and policies, rather than to ‘make’ the clients accept them. Now, if the client will not accept a policy or decision after she explains it, she ‘stops fighting’. She went on to say that she still makes attempts to explain decisions and encourages the clients to accept what she is saying. However, she can now recognise the point where no amount of explaining is going to be accepted by the client.

Explaining over and over to a client who already understands but just will not accept, really does wind them up.

Remember, whether a client accepts your explanation or not, often does not impact on the eventual outcome. If they do not accept why they are being turned down from receiving a benefit, the outcome is still the same – they are not getting the benefit. We find a lot of energy is expended trying to get clients to accept decisions where there is little chance that they will.

Check out this blog post all about “25 Conflict Resolution Strategies for Customer Service.

So how do we stop ‘fighting’ on these two fronts? – 1: explaining things over and over, and 2: getting frustrated with the client when they will not accept what we are saying.

Explaining things over and over

Adopt a rule of three. Take note of the number of times you explain something to the client. If the client does not understand your reasons after three attempts, they are probably not going to understand you or they are choosing not to accept. Try explaining something three times but be careful when adding more. After all, the client has a right to their opinion.

Getting frustrated

To ‘stop fighting’ we must accept that sometimes the client will not accept what we are saying, and that is okay. This must start with us recognising that our own irritation with the client, ‘encourages’ us to keep explaining our side of the story. If we cannot accept the client has a right not to accept what we are saying, that will lead to us feeling very frustrated.

Explain your reasons and decisions but know when to ‘stop fighting’. If you think you could benefit from our Conflict Management Courses please get in touch.

In the meantime check out our recent blog post all about using your voice tone, speed and pitch to manage conflict.

Thank you for reading.